Girls' Night Out, Part II


"Are they always so welcoming?" Sybille asked, as Viktoriyah led her away.

"Why wouldn't they be?" the older vampire countered. "You're a civilized vampire, an accomplished woman of taste. You're exactly the breed welcomed at court. Drink?" she offered.

Sybille suddenly noticed that not only was there was a thrall standing with a tray goblets, but there were thralls spread out upon the tables.

"Please," she nodded in a daze, as Viktoriyah handed her a goblet and took one for herself. In a second, her mouth and throat were filled with sweet blood, warm and thick and sticky. Compared to the blood she'd been drinking, it was practically gourmet.

She surprised at how quickly the goblet emptied. She stared into it, forlorn and bordering on distraught.

Viktoriyah chuckled softly. "More?"

Sybille's eyes lit up as she accepted a second goblet, this time taking her time to savor. "How did you feed at the Blue Palace?" she asked.

"From Elisif's neck, of course," Viktoriah shrugged casually. She suddenly realized she sounded like a pampered princess. "Since we have no use for pork or other succulent meats, nor herbs, nor fruits, nor sweets, our thralls eat as well as the jarls, if not better. I certainly wasn't about to settle for anything less."

Sybille's eyes widened in dismay. "Elisif!" she exclaimed. "But...her health! Her safety!"

"I slipped her regenerative potions all the time, Sybille," Viktoriyah laughed. "She'd heal immediately after I fed, and I never took too much. I also brought with me several potions of blood--that's those jeweled bottles you see there," she pointed. "A sip cures any poison. Two can heal any wound. Half a bottle, and you won't need to feed for the rest of the day." She grinned at Sybille's baffled look. "Only the alchemists of Volkihar know how to make the concoction. Would you like to meet them?"


Viktoriyah showed her the library, where the alchemists worked and there were indeed ancient tomes beyond counting. Sybille gawked at the corpses and skeletons nakedly displayed while vampire mages in robes worked and bickered and worked some more. They didn't need to hide their work nor explain it to anyone. And not only did they have tools and ingredients in abundance, but they were doing work Sybille didn't understand and creating things she'd never even heard of.

Viktoriyah showed her the royal sitting room where Harkon liked to sit with his daughter in the rare moments when she actually visited. The stairs apparently led to the royal bedchamber...where Harkon slept alone.

"Valerica has her own tower," Viktoriyah shrugged. "It's furnished with everything she needs so she never sleeps down here."

"And you?" Sybille asked. "Where do you sleep?"

Viktoriyah showed her a dark room filled with mist and coffins. Sybille was visibly appalled.

"How is that even comfortable?" she blinked. "And why so many in one room?"

"Magic, to answer your first question," Viktoriyah explained. "Coffins have magic, Stentor; they invigorate and refresh us. We don't require much sleep, so we prefer to spend the extra time on other pursuits. And while we do have some rooms with traditional beds, several coffins in one room maximizes space, so the other rooms are left free for our aforementioned pursuits."

"Such as?"

"Well, you've seen the library and alchemy labs, but we also enjoy music, sparring, chess, dance...alone time with close friends."

Sybille's eyes were like saucers. "No."

"Why not?" Viktoriyah blinked. "Vampires have passions just as strong, if not stronger, than mortals. You can take a lover--or more--without shame or fear of scandal. Vampires gossip out of boredom, same as mortals, but we don't actually care. Anyone here is fair game...even Lord Harkon."

Sybille stared at her, mouth hanging open. "But Lady Valerica--"

"--won't care," Viktoriyah reiterated. "In fact, you'd actually be doing her a favor."

Viktoriyah showed her the forge, where the weapons master trained and the castle blacksmith toiled. Both were fit, tall female vampires in leather armor, and even though Sybille had never much cared about weapons or smithing, Viktoriyah's talk of lovers had her seeing things with eyes anew.

After the forge, Viktoriyah showed her the bathing pool. There were stone heads protruding from the walls and statues on the walkways.

"This is where we bathe," Viktoriyah said. "The first rule of Volkihar is to never harm a thrall. Abuse a thrall and you die. The second rule is to never harm a fellow vampire. Attack a fellow member of the court and you die. The third rule is to drink from a goblet; we are civilized after all. And the fourth rule is to bathe every single day, Sybille. Don't. Skip. Ever. Mortals may smell horrendous, but we do too."

Sybille raised an eyebrow. "So you all just bathe here together?"

"We care more about hygiene than we do modesty," Viktoriyah snickered. "So always wash your hair and skin with soap. The water flows in and out of the sea, and the high salt content aids in our cleansing. The alchemists make our soaps and our perfumes. Helps to further disguise what we are."

"And the one who made your ring?" Sybille asked. "They do that for everyone?"

"Alythia," Viktoriyah muttered. "She was a bit 'off', if you catch my meaning. She left many years ago and this was the last ring she crafted. Since the ring only works on the one it's crafted for, I'm one of the few people who repeatedly gets sent out into the mortal realm."

"Oh," Sybille mumbled, disappointed.

"Cheer up," Viktoriyah chuckled. "She'll be back. She always comes back. Now I've got one more place to show you. After that, I'm sure you'll want to spend some time with the mages."

"This place is bigger than the Blue Palace!" Sybille gasped.

"And you haven't even seen half of it."

The last place was unlit, crumbled, and for some reason, didn't feel real, but even Sybille knew better than to complain. It was somber, sacred even, haunting without feeling haunted, and for the first time ever...cold.

"This is the temple of Molag Bal," Viktoriyah said solemnly. "The Daedric Prince from whom we all descend."

But Sybille didn't care about all that. The temple had a fountain, a bubbling fountain of what looked and smelled liked sweet, sweet blood. She could feel it calling to every fiber of her being, instantly destroying whatever resistance she might have had.

"One sip, Sybille," Viktoriyah warned, as though reading her thoughts. "Anymore than that and you'll wake up a month from now."

Sybille complied, leaning to inhale the intoxicating fragrance before taking one small sip. As it turned out, she didn't need any more than that to black out.


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